Immediate Revelation—Spiritual Gifts Necessary in the Christian Church—Apostasy—The Restoration of the Gospel—All Things to Be Gathered in One—Divine Authority—Marriage—Celestial Marriage—Baptism for the Dead
Discourse by Elder Orson Pratt, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, on the Occasion of the Attendance of the New England and New York Editorial Excursion Party, Sunday Afternoon, July 11, 1875.
I will call the attention of the congregation to a portion of the word of God contained in the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. [The speaker read the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 verses.]
I have read these passages of Scripture in order to dwell, this afternoon, if the Lord will, and his Spirit shall so direct my mind, upon the subject of marriage, and to show wherein the people called Latter-day Saints differ in their views from other Christian denominations in relation to this great and divine ordinance, and to make such other remarks, not particularly connected with the subject, as the Spirit of the Lord may direct.
First, however, before taking up this divine ordinance, it may be well to state, in brief terms, some of the views of the Latter-day Saints in regard to the doctrine which they have embraced. I shall endeavor to be very brief on every point, in order to enumerate, as far as possible, the variety of doctrines and principles which we have embraced, that are peculiar to us as a people. I will commence by saying, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not grown out of the various religious societies that now exist, or that have existed, in Christendom; neither has it grown out of any of their institutions. Our Priesthood, our doctrine, our authority, the organization of our Church, and everything connected therewith, have been something revealed directly from the heavens. Perhaps you may inquire—“Have you not been guided more or less in relation to these principles by the book which is called the Bible?” I answer that, in the organization of the kingdom of God on the earth in the nineteenth century, we have been guided by direct revelation to us from heaven. We do not profess that our doctrines and principles are entirely distinct and something entirely different from those which are recorded in the Bible, we are far from making any such profession; but we believe that the same God who organized his kingdom in ancient times, and revealed his will to the inhabitants of the earth, has revealed, in these last days, principles in accordance with those revealed in former times, and that he is a consistent Being, and that he would not communicate a Gospel for the inhabitants of the earth to observe in the 19th century that was not revealed and understood in former ages. The same Gospel, therefore, which God has revealed anew in our day, when compared with the Gospel contained in the New Testament, is found to accord in every principle, and in all its ordinances and institutions, with ancient Christianity.
This Church was organized on the 6th day of April, 1830. The very day of the month on which it should be organized was pointed out by new revelation; the officers that were placed in the Church were appointed, and the names of many of them were given by new revelation. The duties of these officers were also appointed by direct revelation from heaven. God organized the Church with Apostles in it, the same as he organized his ancient Church; he organized it with Revelators and with Prophets, inspired from on high, the same as he organized the ancient Christian Church. He commanded the people to believe in his Son Jesus Christ, as the great Redeemer who died in the meridian of time for the sins of mankind. He commanded, by new revelation, that we should believe in the same Redeemer and in the same atonement; he commanded us to repent of all our sins, forsake all unrighteousness, cease to do evil and learn to do well, and to reform our lives in every respect, the same as he commanded the people in the ancient dispensation of the Gospel. By new revelation we were commanded to be baptized by immersion in water, for the remission of our sins, the same as he commanded the people in ancient times to attend to the same divine ordinance. By new revelation, he commanded his servants the Apostles, and those to whom he gave power and authority, to lay hands on all baptized believers, and to confirm upon them the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, the same as was practiced among the Saints in ancient times. By new revelation the Lord promised that certain signs should follow the believers among all nations, kindreds, tongues and people to whom this Gospel should be sent. All that would believe, men and women, were promised certain signs, among which I will name that they should cast out devils, speak with new tongues, and if they should take up serpents, or drink any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, they should lay their hands upon the sick and they should recover. The same promise was made by our Savior under the ancient dispensation of the Gospel. He commanded his servants, in these days, to go forth and preach to the Gentile nations first; and when we had faithfully borne our testimony to them, and they were sufficiently warned, then we were to turn to the scattered and dispersed remnants of Israel in the four quarters of the earth, and preach the Gospel to them. He commanded, by new revelation, that his servants should say unto the inhabitants of all the earth that would believe, repent, be baptized, and receive the Gospel of the Son of God, that they should leave their respective nations, and gather together in one place, which the Lord, by new revelation, should appoint.
All this was given by new revelation. Does it agree or disagree with the Scriptures contained in the Bible? Judge ye for yourselves. Did the ancient Christian Church have inspired Apostles, who had power to call upon God and receive new reve– lation from him? So does the modern Christian Church, which God has reorganized on the earth; claim to have the same officers, Apostles, not in name merely, but inspired from heaven, to receive new revelations, as the ancient Apostles were. Is there any disagreement, then, between the former pattern and the latter-day pattern? Did the ancient Christian Church have a multitude of inspired Prophets, men and women, who could prophesy concerning future events? So the latter-day Christian Church, organized by new revelation, has an abundance of Prophets and Prophetesses to whom the future has been opened, and they foretell future events; hence there is no disagreement between the ancient pattern and the latter-day pattern. Did the Apostles lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and did the Spirit of God descend from the heavens, and fall upon the baptized believers through the laying on of hands? So in the latter days have the same blessings been given among all the nations and people and kindreds and tongues, wherever this Gospel has been preached. No difference, then, so far as this is concerned.
Did the ancient Christian Church have a great variety of members possessing a variety of spiritual gifts? So does the latter-day Christian Church believe in the same thing. Did any in the Christian Church presume, in ancient times, to take unto themselves the authority of the ministry, without being called of God by new revelation? Never, no never! All were called by new revelation to officiate in the various offices of the Church, after the same pattern that Aaron was called. “No man,” says Paul, “taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron.” Everybody knows, from the history given, how Aaron was called by new revelation. Have any among all the peoples and nations of the earth authority to administer baptism? Yes. Who are they? Those who are called by new revelation, and none else. Have any authority to administer the Lord’s Supper among all the Christian nations of the earth? Yes. Who are they? Those to whom the Lord has spoken, whom the Lord has called as he called Aaron. Have any Christian denominations who deny new revelation, authority to administer this sacred ordinance? Not one upon the face of the whole earth. Are ordinances, administered by those who deny new revelation, accepted by the Most High? Not one of them. Why? Because God does not sanction that which is not appointed by him.
Perhaps some may inquire, if this does not cut off the Christian Church from the face of the earth? I answer, it does, unless God has a Christian Church with revelators and Prophets in it, and whose officers are called by new revelation. Inquires one—“Do you mean to say that we have had no true Christian Church on the earth for a great many centuries?” I do mean to say this, unless there have been persons authorized, according to the requirements of the holy Scriptures. If we can find a Church anywhere on the face of the earth that has Apostles in it, and revelators, and inspired men, then we have a true Christian Church; but if we cannot find this, then we have no such Church. If we can find a church that has the gifts and the signs spoken of by the New Testament, we can find a true Christian Church; but if we can’t find such, we have no reason to believe that there is such a Church on the earth. “But,” says one, “we call ourselves Christians.” That is a very easy matter; but calling yourselves Christians or Christian churches does not make you such. Inquires one—“Is it not contrary to the Scriptures to suppose that the world would be left for so many centuries without a Christian Church?” No; it is in accordance with the Scriptures, for they foretell the Apostasy, the falling away and the darkness that should reign over the nations, and show that instead of having true teachers, men would heap to themselves teachers without authority from God, uninspired men, whose ears would be turned away from the truth unto fables. This great apostasy commenced about the close of the first century of the Christian era, and it has been waxing worse and worse from then until now. A short time after the death of the last of the Apostles, the Christian Church, what few of them remained, were persecuted from mountain to mountain, from den to den, from one cave of the earth to another, and from nation to nation until they were entirely exterminated and rooted out of the earth. Well, what was left? An apostate Christianity, a Christianity without revelators, without any voice of God, without any Prophets to unfold the future, without visions, without any communications from the heavens. Apostasy succeeded the Christian Church and has borne rule over all the nations of the earth; and these Scriptures have been fulfilled; for they say that a certain power should arise, and make war with the Saints and overcome them, and they should be given into the hands of that power.
But is our earth always to be left without the Church and kingdom of God, and without Apostles, Prophets, or a voice from the heavens? No. John saw in his vision on Patmos how the Gospel should again be preached among the nations, after great Babylon should arise, after she should persecute the Saints and destroy them from the earth, and present her golden cup full of filthiness and abominations for all nations to drink thereof.
After he had seen this, he saw how the Christian Church should again return to the earth. In the fourteenth chapter of Revelation and sixth verse, he says—“I saw another angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come.” And another angel followed this one that had the Gospel, saying—“Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” Why? Because she hath made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Immediately after this the Son of Man was seen by John, sitting upon a white cloud, coming in his glory and power to destroy the nations of the earth. Here, then, were three great events portrayed by the ancient Apostle John, which should take place just prior to and at the time of the coming of the Son of Man. The Gospel is to be brought by an angel. For whom? For all people. Now, if there had been any people, nation, kindred, or tongue, in any part of the earth that had the Gospel, and had the authority to administer its ordinances, there would be no necessity for this angel’s coming, all we would have had to do, would be to hunt up that people, and there, among them, we should have found Apostles, Prophets, revelators, and men having power to call upon God, and get revelation; and then persons would be called by new revelation to the ministry. But no such people existed, and hence, when the angel brings the Gospel, it has to be preached to all people, nations and tongues, under the whole heavens.
Now the Latter-day Saints have happened to live in the day when the Lord has sent this angel, and when he has again established his Church, and has commanded his servants to go forth, calling them by name, to preach the Gospel to the people, without purse and scrip, to organize his people among all nations and to say unto them—“Gather out from all these nations unto one place.” “But,” says one, “what does this mean? Did the ancient Apostles and the ancient Christian Churches gather?” I answer that the same doctrines which they taught are taught in these days; yet when it comes to some of the great temporal principles of salvation, God has varied in his plans in every dispensation. To Noah a command was given to build an ark; that was the way in which was to be effected the temporal salvation of all believers in his day. Abraham was commanded to leave his country, kindred and friends; that was a command of a very different character to the one given in the dispensation of Noah. In the days of Moses, another command was given quite different from that given to either Noah or Abraham, and so on down. In the days of Jesus, so far as temporal salvation was concerned, the believers were permitted to remain at Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia and in all the countries wherever the Christian Church was organized; there was no gathering in that day. But the last dispensation is to be a dispensation of gathering together of all of the people of God. It is spoken of by Paul in the first chapter of his epistle to the Ephe– sians, where it is said “that, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, the Lord will gather together in one all that are in Christ, whether they be in the heavens or upon the earth, that they may all be gathered in one.”
Now if this angel who brought this Gospel from the heavens, and commanded this Church to be organized, had left out this gathering together in one, we would have had reason to suppose him to be an impostor. Why? Because the great essential feature of the latter-day dispensation was a gathering together in one of all things in Christ. That is the reason why these vales are filled with inhabitants of different nations and tongues; they have heard in different parts of the earth the sound of the Gospel which God has brought to light in these latter days by an angel; they heard the voice of the Lord calling upon them to flee from Babylon, and to gather together in one, and that is why they are here. This agrees with the testimony of John, that, after the angel came, the Gospel should be preached to all nations. He heard a great voice from heaven, saying—“Come out of her, my people, lest ye be partakers of her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have reached to the heavens, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” That voice, recollect, was not to be a cunningly devised fable, got up by a certain number of divines or theologians, according to their own wisdom; it was to be a voice from heaven, a new revelation, commanding the people to do this. About a hundred thousand of the Latter-day Saints, dwelling in this mountain region, building up towns and cities for some four or five hundred miles in extent, have heard the voice of the Lord from the heavens and have gathered out. You have heard the proclamation, when the latter-day kingdom was established, to take your lamps and go forth to meet the Bridegroom. Instead of staying in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or among the islands of the sea, you have been commanded to take your lamps and gather out; this is like the fish net that was cast into the sea, and “gathered all kinds, both good and bad.” “Do you mean to say,” says one, “that there are some gathered among you who are bad?” Yes; if there were not the parable of our Savior would not be fulfilled. But by and by there will be a sorting out, and the bad will be cast away unto their own place, while the good will be gathered into vessels and be saved.
This will be fulfilling the words of the Prophet Isaiah, in the 43rd chapter—“I will gather them from the east, and from the west, I will say to the north give up, and to the south keep not back. Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, even every one that is called by my name.” Says one—“Do you really think there will be no Christians left in the north, nor in the south, nor in the east, nor in the west, but that everyone that is called by the name of the Lord will be gathered in one?” Yes, that is what we believe, and that is one of the peculiarities of what the world call “Mormonism,” we do not believe there will be a Christian left on the whole face of the earth, but what will be gathered together. “Well,” says one, “if that is true, if Isaiah told the truth about that, and the day is at hand for his prophecy to be fulfilled, the nations will truly be in an awful dilemma, when every Christian is gathered out.” I think they will, I think you draw a very correct conclusion.
Why does the Lord gather them out? As the Prophet Isaiah has said in another place, he gathers them out to the mountains, and they say one to another—“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob.” What for? “That he may teach us of his ways, and that we may walk in his paths.” It seems, then, that the Lord will have one people somewhere on the face of the earth, up in some mountainous region, who are going to teach the nations his ways, and how to walk in his paths.
Now, if we can find out where that mountain is where the Lord is going to have a house built, and to which the nations shall gather, it will be well for us to open our eyes and to see whether we are gathering together to learn the ways of the Lord.
Perhaps you may enquire, “What peculiarities are to be taught in the mountains different from what are taught abroad?” I answer, undoubtedly there will be a great many; and among the rest is that of marriage, and now we come to the words of our text. You may ask, “Do you not marry here in the mountains, as we do in the East?” In reply, I will say, in the first place, that marriage is a divine ordinance, as you see by the words of my text—“What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Now how does the Lord join together persons in marriage? Does he ordain a justice of the peace, who avows himself to be an infidel, and does not believe in God, or his Son Jesus Christ, or in the Gospel of life and salvation? Has such a man the authority of God to join the sexes together in marriage? Suppose that such pronounce the marriage ceremony, what has the Lord to do with it? Does the Lord inspire the infidel—one who has no faith nor con– fidence in him, to join together the sexes in marriage? I think not.
But suppose we pass by the infidel who holds the authority of the civil law to administer the ordinance of marriage, are there not many persons among the Christian nations, who do believe in God and his Son Jesus Christ, who are justices of the peace, and who have authority, under the civil laws of the country, to administer the ordinance of marriage? I answer—there are many who hold this authority under their respective governments; we do not dispute this. The infidel I was speaking of, who is a justice of the peace, has authority by the laws of his State or county, to administer and officiate in the ceremony of marriage. But God has nothing to do with it; it answers the ends of the civil law, and that is as far as it goes.
Now suppose you take those persons who are not infidels, but who profess to believe in God, and they hold authority, under their various governments, to pronounce a man and woman husband and wife, has the Lord anything to do with that? He has if he has appointed that minister or justice of the peace; if he has given him a revelation authorizing him to officiate in the ordinance of marriage, then he has authority to do it, according to the mind and will of God. But on the other hand, if God has said nothing to him, he has no divine authority—and if he is a sectarian he is sure to reject all revelation, unless it happens to be in the Bible, and the Bible calls no man by name in the 19th century to officiate in marriage, neither in baptism nor any of the ordinances of the Gospel—his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ does not give him divine authority to administer the ordinance of marriage. Nevertheless the individuals whom he marries are mar– ried according to the laws of the country, and the marriage is legal so far as the laws of the country are concerned; but if God has not spoken to those men, if he has not given them revelation authorizing them to do this, their ceremony, so far as God is concerned, would be just the same as though it was administered by a heathen priest, just the same as though it was ministered by an infidel, for God has nothing to do with it.
Who is it then, that the Lord joins together? It is those who are married by one authorized of God to officiate in that sacred and holy ordinance, and the Lord could not do this, without he gave new revelation; hence you begin to understand what our views are as Latter-day Saints in regard to the nature of marriage. Inquires one—“Do you mean to say that there have been no marriages legal in the sight of God for nearly seventeen hundred years past, among all the nations?” Yes, that is what we say. Those old and middle-aged men, who were married in the nations before they heard the sound of the Gospel, were married legally according to the laws of man, and their marriages will stand all the controversies of the law, and their children are legal heirs to their property; but they are not joined together of the Lord.
Now let us come to a marriage where the Lord officiates. It is indirectly referred to here, in this 19th chapter of Matthew—“In the beginning God made them male and female.” And who officiated in the first great marriage ceremony? It was the Lord. Probably, if there had been any man on the earth at that time who held the keys, authority and power, the Lord would not have come and officiated directly; but inasmuch as the marriage was between the first pair who dwelt upon the earth, and there was nobody else to officiate, the Lord took it in hand to officiate himself; and after he had formed the woman he brought her to the man, and the man said—“This, now, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, therefore she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.”
Now let us inquire in regard to the perpetuity of this first marriage, for all Christendom, and I do not know but all heathendom, have got the curious idea into their heads that marriage pertains only to this little speck of time called our present life, and that by and by the grim monster Death will come along and part man and wife asunder, and that is the end of the marriage union. Such is the idea of all Christendom, and that is the way they marry; it is after this form that justices of the peace, the professed ministers of the Gospel, and all the judicial authorities of the various states, territories, nations, countries and empires of the world have officiated in the marriage ceremony—“I join you together,” or, “I pronounce you husband and wife,” as the case may be, “until death shall you part.” Oh indeed! It is a very short time to be married, is it not? We might die in the course of a day or two after being married, then the contract is run out, no more claim after that, according to their ideas. But now, in relation to this first marriage between Adam and Eve, who were they? Two immortal beings. What! Does God marry immortal beings? Yes. We have no account of his coming officially to marry a couple of mortal beings; I do not know that we have any such account anywhere. But these two personages, Adam and Eve, were immortal. Says one—“I never knew before that immortal beings were to be connected as husbands and wives, I thought marriage pertained to mortality, and until death should us part, and that was the end of it.” I know that we have had a great many erroneous ideas about baptism, about the laying on of hands, about marriage, and about a great many things, all of which came in consequence of the darkness that is spread over the nations, since ancient Christianity was rooted out of the earth. Two immortal beings—Adam the bridegroom, Eve the bride, stood up together, and the Lord gave the bride to the bridegroom. For how long, I wonder? If he had learned the ceremony of these Protestant and Catholic denominations, he might have said—“I pronounce you husband and wife until death shall separate you.” No, I think he had never learned that; death had not then come into our world; the forbidden fruit had not been eaten then; there were no fallen beings then on the earth, no mortality yet upon the face of our fair creation, but two immortal beings who were capable of enduring to all ages of eternity were united together in marriage.
This, then, was marriage for eternity, not for a little speck of time, not for a hundred or a thousand years, not for a million years, but for all eternity, to be as durable in its nature, action and effects as the immortal beings themselves. “But,” inquires one, “are you sure that Adam and Eve were immortal?” I am; the Scriptures inform me that by transgression sin came into the world, and death by sin. If sin had not come into the world there would have been no death. “But, do you really think that Adam and Eve would have been alive today?” Yes. Can you reflect in your minds upon a period in the future, when they would not be immortal, when they would be overcome? Can you point out the time when they would no longer be husband and wife? Never. When did the Lord give the commandment to be fruitful and multiply, etc.? He gave it to them as immortal beings. Supposing it had been possible for Adam and Eve, before they fell, to have had children, what kind of children would they have been? Would mortal children have descended from immortality without any transgression? Would people of flesh and blood and bones come into the world from immortal parents? No. We must suppose, then, that when God said to Adam and Eve, “be fruitful and multiply” that he spoke to them as beings that were not fallen.
Perhaps you may enquire, how long would they have multiplied and fulfilled this commandment? I answer, as long as eternity endures. Can you tell how long that will be? “Do you mean to say there would be no end to their increase?” None at all. If they had fulfilled that great commandment, and had multiplied their posterity, their children would have been immortal, as well as the parents, and there never would have been a period throughout all the endless ages of eternity but what they would have continued to increase their children—their own sons and daughters.
Perhaps you may say—“I really thought that mankind now, over the face of the earth, were fulfilling that great first commandment.” You have been highly mistaken; we have not one of us fulfilled it. “Do you mean to say that all these people here who have been married and have multiplied sons and daughters throughout all this Territory, have not been fulfilling the command given to Adam?” Not one pair of us, we were not in a condition to do it; we shall be by and by, however, when we get our immortal bodies, as Adam had his. But while we are here, we are permitted to multiply—what? Poor, weak, pusillanimous, fallen, sickly bodies, calculated to last at the longest, seventy, eighty, or a hundred years, and then crumble back to their mother earth. Are you going to substitute such an offspring as this to fulfill the great first commandment that was given to immortal man? Oh no, the Lord will accept no such substitution as this.
But how can we fulfil the commandment then? I will tell you how—be married for all eternity, as your first parents were, and then, when you come up in the morning of the first resurrection, and God again restores to you your bodies, male and female, you can fulfil that commandment that was given in the beginning, to the first immortal pair.
Shall we continue to multiply through all eternity? Yes; there never will be a time when those who are really married for eternity will cease to multiply their species, not children subject to pain, disease and death, but children of immortality. Millions on millions will be multiplied, worlds without end, by each pair of immortal parents, and their children will be as immortal as themselves. Then the commandment will be fulfilled.
Perhaps some of you may say—“Your remarks explain a certain passage we have often read, the 11th chapter of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, and 11th verse, which says—’Neither is the man without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord.’ We never knew what that meant before, but it seems that you Latter-day Saints have got a clue to it.” It seems then that if we wish to fulfil the object of our creation, and if we are truly in the Lord, then we must go into the eternal worlds as married, not for time; not by some justice of the peace that is an infidel; not by a man that has no right to join us together under the revelation and authority of the Most High; but we must be married for eternity by a man who has the right to speak, being commanded of the Lord, holding the keys of authority and power, who can say to the man and woman, I pronounce you husband and wife for time and all eternity. Then you will be married according to the pattern given; then you will have a claim upon each other after death. But have married people, in the nations, a claim upon each other after death? I mean those who have not been married after the pattern and authority of heaven. By no means. Their contracts are made only for a little space, some twenty, thirty, fifty or seventy years, as the case may be, then death comes along and the contract runs out; and when you come up in the resurrection who are you? Have you any wife there? Oh, no. Why not? Because you were not sealed or married, to each other by divine authority, that is the reason. What position will you occupy? If you have been pretty good people and have kept the commandments of God as far as you understood them, and have done well in many respects, you may have the opportunity of becoming angels; but there is quite a difference between angels and those who have the privilege of endless increase, and of being crowned as kings and priests in the eternal worlds. Whom do you suppose you will reign over? Will you get somebody else to multiply and spread forth their offspring, and then give that offspring to you? Will you go to your neighbors and say—“Come, you were married for eternity when you were back in yonder world and you have come forth, having a claim to your wife or wives in the morning of the resurrection. I did not attend to that matter while there, and I was not married there according to the first pattern that was given in the Bible, and inasmuch as I failed in doing this will you, neighbor, give me part of your children? I should like to be a king, and have some subjects to reign over, will you part with some of your children?” “Oh no,” says the neighbor, “if you neglected, in yonder world, the divine ordinances pertaining to the probation, you must bear the loss, I cannot spare any of my children. They belong to me; they are under my patriarchal government, they will be my kingdom and I shall reign over my own offspring forever and ever.”
What will this poor man do then? Why he will have to be an old bachelor, if we may use the expression, and continue that way to all ages of eternity. He will do for a servant, and they will have a great many servants there. A man of God has a great kingdom, and his kingdom spreads forth, and his subjects multiply like the stars of heaven, or the sands upon the seashore, and he will naturally want some who have bodies of flesh and bones to go and minister for certain purposes; and those who have deprived themselves of the benefits of marriage for eternity, will do first-rate for that, if they have been righteous enough to get into a position where angels are.
There were some in the days of our Savior righteous enough for that, but through the apostasy that had prevailed some three centuries before he came, they had lost the authority of obtaining this higher glory, and when Jesus spake to them about the resurrection of the dead, he said—“In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage.” To whom was he talking? Not to the righteous, but to some of the members of the pious denominations that happened to exist in that day, that had in some measure lost the spirit of the Lord. Such never having been married for eternity in this world could rise no higher than angels in the next world; and if they became righteous enough to become celestial angels, they would be servants forever. Servants to whom? Those that are worthy to receive a kingdom and a glory, that have attended to their ordinances and to the commandments of God, and have been led by him in all things pertaining to marriage as well as other things.
Let us now come to another item that grows out of marriage for eternity. For instance, there are a great many in this congregation who were married by the Gentile laws, by justices of the peace and various other officers, in England, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, and in the various nations of Christendom. They come up here with their wives, many of them just as good people as can be found anywhere on the earth. Were they married by divine ordinances? Did God join them together? No. Are they, therefore, to be condemned? No. Why not? Because God did not send the word to them. When the word goes forth from the Lord Almighty to a people, and light comes into a nation and among a people, then comes condemnation if that light is rejected, but not till then.
The word of the Lord told you to gather up here. What for? That you might, among other things, be married according to the law of God. I am endeavoring to tell you some of our peculiarities. We do believe that every man who gathers up with the Saints, whether married by the Gentile law or not, should be married by one holding divine authority to officiate, and thus have the ordinance, the ministration sealed on earth that it may be sealed in the heavens; then it will stand; but everything that is not done by the authority of God will not stand, but will be shaken; and when the day of the resurrection shall come, it will only be that which God has appointed that will endure the test. In that day, when they come up out of their graves, there will be no chance for people to be married, any more than there will be for them to be baptized. If people do not get baptized here in this life, they will have no chance to be baptized there. And Jesus says, that if you are not born of the water and of the spirit, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, that is, into the highest kingdom, the highest glory, the third heaven; you cannot enter there, consequently you must not put off baptism until the resurrection day, and say you will attend to it then, for that will be too late for baptism, and also for marriage.
Here is another question. A great many of those good people abroad, who, with their ancestors, back for seventeen hundred years, while God had no authority or Church on the earth, have gone down to their graves, without knowing anything about the pattern of marriage as recorded here in the Bible, which is eternal in its nature. What are you going to do with them? I answer, it would look rather hard if there was no provision made for them, would it not? There are about seventeen centuries or generations, and if we compute a thousand million of people for every generation, coming upon and passing away from the earth, we shall have about fifty thousand million altoge– ther, who have gone down to their graves without baptism, without the administration of the ordinances, without divine authority to administer in their marriages! Do you suppose that the Lord has made no provision for all these things? All must have a chance. There is not an individual that ever lived upon the earth, from the days of Adam down to this time, whether it was among the heathen or savages, who never heard of Jesus or of the true God, and who went down to his grave in total ignorance; there never was a man or woman on the face of the globe, but what will have an opportunity, either in this life or in the life to come, to obey and enjoy the benefits of the Gospel of Salvation.
“But did you not say that there was no opportunity for them to attend to these ordinances in the life to come?” I did. “Then why did you say, that there will be an opportunity for them?” There is quite a difference between having an opportunity, and attending to the ordinances. You cannot attend to the latter in the life to come. Parties who have died in this generation or in the generations passed, without having an opportunity to be baptized by a man holding authority, will have an opportunity of hearing the Gospel in the life to come; but they cannot attend personally to the ordinances thereof. Why? Because God has ordained that men, here in the flesh, shall be baptized in this life; or, if they die without a knowledge of the Gospel and its ordinances, that their friends in the flesh, in the day of his power, when he brings forth the everlasting Gospel, shall officiate for them, and in their behalf. This is another peculiarity of the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints—baptism for the dead.
You see a Temple building here, east of this tabernacle, and a great many inquiries are made respecting the nature of this building. Some suppose that we are going to hold meetings in it, and preach to the people; but no, that pertains to the tabernacle. God has pointed out the uses of a Temple by new revelation, the same as he pointed out the object of a tabernacle in the days of Moses, and the object of the Temple of the Lord in the days of Solomon; and among those objects he has told us that in the basement of the Temple there should be a baptismal font. What for? That those who are living here on the earth may be baptized for and in behalf of those who die without a knowledge of the Gospel.
Does that reach back to all generations who have died in ignorance? Yes. To all our ancestors? Yes; it reaches back to our fathers, our grandfathers and their progenitors away back to ancient days, when the Priesthood was upon the earth. Baptism for the dead! The same thing was attended to in ancient times, so that we have not got a new pattern, it is the old pattern renewed. Paul says, in the 15th chapter of the first of Corinthians—“Else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” Sure enough! It was a strong argument to prove the resurrection of the dead, that the people who belonged to the ancient Christian Churches had the privilege of going and being baptized for those who had died before the Gospel came among them.
Now do you not see that we are not so uncharitable as a great many would suppose? Instead of sending all the generations who lived in former ages to hell, because they did not happen to hear the Gospel, and because there was no Christian Church upon the earth; I say that, instead of sending them all to an endless hell, God has made provisions that the living may act for and in behalf of the dead. The ordinances thus attended to here on the earth in behalf of the dead, will be recorded and sealed here by proper authority; and what is thus recorded and sealed here will be recorded and sealed in the heavens in behalf of those individuals; and if those spirits who are in prison and in the eternal worlds will repent when the Gospel is taken to them, they can have the benefit of the ordinances administered for and in their behalf here, and they will have part in the first resurrection.
Then again, if baptism for the dead is true, every other divine ordinance is equally true and necessary for the dead, for one is just as consistent as the other. The laying on of hands in confirmation upon a person that is living here in the flesh, for and in behalf of those who are in their graves, is just as consistent as baptism for the dead.
Again, if our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, have died without being married by divine authority, the same authority that would cause a people to act for the dead in relation to baptism, would cause them to act for and in behalf of the dead in relation to their marriage ceremonies too. Such a plan gives them all a chance. For there are no marryings, nor baptisms, nor confirmations, in and after the resurrection. The resurrected dead can do none of these things; but if it is done here for them, and they will accept of it, it will be acknowledged in the heavens. Hence, here is another peculiarity of the Latter-day Saints pertaining to the Temple, the house of the Lord to be built in the tops of the mountains in the latter days, as Isaiah says in the second chapter—“Many people shall say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us of his ways, that we may walk in his paths.” A Temple, therefore, instead of being a place for teaching and preaching, is a place for the administration of holy ordinances.
Another question. A great many have wondered why so many people in the eastern, southern and middle States have been stirred up for a number of years past in searching out their ancestors. Now the Lord does a great many things unknown to the people, and this is one of them. The people do not know why they are interested in their ancestry, but they are wrought upon by some invisible operation, and they feel very anxious to know about their progenitors. I think that some four hundred different families have already got extended family records, tracing their ancestry back from generation to generation to the first settlements of the New England States, and then back into Old England if it is possible, to make out the connection. Do they know what they are doing this for? No; they feel wrought upon, that is all they know about it. Now I will tell you why it is, for a great many of the people in this congregation, and many who are scattered through the villages, towns and settlements in this Territory, emigrated from the New England States, and they had fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, and ancestors, now in their graves, who were just as pure, upright, virtuous and honest in their feelings as we their children are. Now we are going to act for them. We have not time to search up all these genealogies, but all we have to do is to go and get the books which the Lord has wrought upon them to get up, containing the names of hun– dreds and thousands of the dead, and we will receive baptism, confirmation and marriage for eternity, and all the ordinances of the Gospel for them, that they, if they will receive what is done for them, may come forth in the resurrection, and inherit all that their children will inherit. Why? Because they were worthy of it. Our pilgrim fathers were a good people, just as worthy as we are, but unfortunately they did not happen to live in the time that God has set for establishing his kingdom on the earth, and sending his angels from the heavens.
Thus you see that this Gospel reaches after the dead as well as the living. Our Savior set the example in regard to this matter, for we are told that when his body lay in the tomb, his spirit was not idle; and instead of going off into the heavens and sitting down there for three days and three nights in perfect idleness, he had something to do, and while his body lay in the tomb, his spirit went and opened the prison doors in which were confined those who were drowned in the flood. What! Were they in prison? Yes. Did Jesus truly visit them? Yes. Did he preach to them? Yes. Where have we this recorded? In Peter’s declaration. He says that, “Jesus was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit, by which he also went and preached to the spirits which were in prison, which sometime were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.” Oh indeed; He went to those old antediluvians then, that had not received their resurrection, and preached to them. What did he preach to them? The following verses tell us what he preached. What would you think he preached? Says one—“If he followed the ex– amples of our sectarian preachers, he would go and tell them that their doom was irrevocably fixed, that they were cast down to prison, never to be recovered; that as the tree falls so it lies, and that there was no hope in their case.” Well, that was not the kind of preaching that Jesus did to the antediluvian spirits. “For, for this cause,” says Peter, “was the Gospel preached to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the spirit.” Though they were in the spirit world, without any bodies, yet they had the privilege of hearing the same Gospel that Jesus preached to those here in the flesh. They could repent, for that is an act of the mind; they could believe in Jesus, for that is also an act of the mind; but the spirits could not be baptized, for that is an act of the body, it is something that pertains to this life. Jesus could preach repentance to them, he could preach the same Gospel to those antediluvians that he had preached to men in the flesh, and they could then be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the spirit. Men in the flesh could be baptized for them, and they could come forth and receive all the blessings of those who received the Gospel in the flesh.
There are a few more remarks which I would like to make, if time will permit, upon a subject which grows out of this eternal marriage or union between the male and the female. For instance, here is a good young man who courts up a wife in the kingdom of God. He says to her, “Let us go and be married for time and all eternity, according to the requirements of heaven.” Very well; they are agreed in it; they attend to the ordinance, and it is sealed upon their heads and recorded for their benefit. We will say that, in the course of two or three months after this marriage, some accident befalls the wife and she dies. They loved each other and were married for all eternity, and he mourns over the fact that in his youth, in the very prime of his manhood, he is left alone, a widower. Now is it right for him to marry another wife after having been married to one for time and for all eternity? Is it right for him again to receive a young lady for a wife? “Oh, yes,” you answer, “it is perfectly right, because that would not be living with two on the earth at the same time.” Very well, he goes and marries again; and now the question arises, suppose that they only marry for time, or until death shall part them—we will suppose this, because the man already has a wife on the other side of the veil—what is to become of the second wife in the morning of the resurrection? Can you answer that question? If he only marries her for time, she has no husband when the resurrection comes. Perhaps she is just as good a woman as the wife the man married first for all eternity. What are you going to do with her? Shall she be left in a condition where she can have no posterity, no endless increase, no kingdom in connection with a husband, and no husband? Shall she be left throughout all the future ages of eternity without any such privilege, while the first wife, no better than she is, is married for all eternity, and inherits all the blessings arising therefrom? Would not there be partiality in this? There certainly would. How are you going to remedy this? We answer, when this widower takes this second wife, let her also be married to him for time and all eternity, the same as the first; then, by and by, when the resurrection comes, there come up the two women. What will you do then? This introduces plurality into the next life, does it not? Polygamists in the next world? It certainly does; and these two women, both having received this man as their husband for all eternity, one of them will now be in just as good a condition as the other.
Let this principle be extended. There are some cases in life where two women might die, and a man be still left in his young days without a wife, and he marries a third and perhaps a fourth; in the resurrection they are contemporaneously his wives. Plurality, therefore, would be perfectly consistent in the world to come, but, “Oh,” says a sectarian, “how awful it is in this world!”
Thus you see that the very moment we admit the eternity of marriage, the very moment that we admit that Adam and Eve were immortal beings, when they were married, and we undertake to follow that pattern, plurality necessarily comes along; either marriage has no bearing upon eternity, and no bearing upon immortality and immortal beings, or else plurality of wives necessarily must exist in eternity.
Says one—“Turn it about the other way, then we shall have plurality of husbands.” Let me say to the congregation that the object of marriage is to fulfill the commandment which God gave to immortal beings. Could a woman multiply faster by having two husbands? Everybody knows that in this respect there is a difference between the male and the female. In this life, at any rate, if one woman had two husbands, instead of making her more fruitful, the probability is that it would prevent her raising any offspring at all; and if she did, how would the father be known? And hence, God has strictly forbidden, in this Bible, plurality of husbands, and proclaimed against it in his law.
I should be glad to touch upon a great many other points, in relation to plurality, but time will not permit. You have heard partially explained some of the peculiarities of the faith of the people called Latter-day Saints. Now what is necessary in regard to polygamists? Our enemies say, “There should be a law passed that all polygamists should be shut up in prison from five to ten years, as the case may be, and pay a heavy fine.” Very well; this is the voice of the people. But does the voice of the people rule in a manner that is inconsistent with the Constitution of our country, by taking away the rights of the minority? Is it the order of our government that the minority must have their rights wrenched from them because the majority decide against them? Let me ask, suppose the majority of the people should decide against infant sprinkling, many look upon that with the utmost horror, and it is only a small minority in our nation that believe in that awful doctrine, suppose the majority should take it into their heads that those who practice infant sprinkling should be imprisoned, they have the same right to do that as to do the other thing which I have named.
Again, there is a certain class of people, and they are far in the minority in this great nation, who believe in dancing on the Sabbath day. I allude to the Shaking Quakers. Would it be right to pass a law against this small minority, and say they shall be imprisoned, because the voice of the people in general happens to denounce their practice of dancing as a crime? “But then,” says one, “polygamy is a crime.” Who told you so? Does the Bible tell you so? Oh no, neither the Old nor the New Testament; no Prophet, no revelator, no Apostle, no man of God, nor Jesus himself, nor any angel ever denounced it as a crime, but on the contrary they advocated it, and the Lord himself administered in this divine ordinance. He gave to Jacob his four wives and children, so Jacob tells us in Genesis.
Then we might continue and show that every Christian denomination in the United States possesses peculiarities which the majority do not believe in, and which they are convinced should be denounced by the civil law as criminal, and that those who practice such peculiarities ought to be imprisoned for doing so. But because the majority of people condemn a principle, that is no proof that it is a crime. Supposing that the great majority of the people condemned the principle of baptism by immersion, would it be right to pass laws punishing those who practice it? No, the Constitution of our country was framed to protect the people in every item of doctrine that they might glean out of this Bible, and instead of condemning these doctrines as criminal, all the States and all the Territories ought to leave Bible principles as matters of conscience; especially the great principle of marriage should be left open and free to all, either to marry one wife, or two or three, or a dozen, as the case may be, only making laws in relation to criminal abuses of the marital state, and in regard to property, how it should descend to the children, etc. But the very moment that they pass laws that are proscriptive and restrictive in their nature, condemning principles that are not condemned in the Bible, taking away the privileges of the people to believe that which is contained in the word of God, religious liberty is in danger, and there is no telling where that infringement will lead to. By and by they may have a blending of Church and State; and no one must believe anything, unless it be doctrines or creeds got up by the State, or by Congress, or by some legislative body; and everybody must bow to that, or be fined, or imprisoned, or be burned, butchered, or hung.
That our great, and free country may never be afflicted with such a species of despotism, is my most earnest prayer. Amen.